What is Knowledge Sharing?
Knowledge sharing involves transferring information between individuals so that they can learn from each other. The transfer of knowledge can be done verbally or through documentation such as a company wiki. While documentation in an accessible wiki has proven effective, writing is a high-effort process. Video conferencing and asynchronous video platforms are on the rise as emerging forms of knowledge transfer. Combining video assets with AI speech-to-text transcription makes a video knowledge base searchable and accessible to replay the knowledge shared.
Why Knowledge Sharing is Important
According to a Panopto report, the average large US business loses $47 million a year due to insufficient knowledge transfer. The report states that "knowledge workers waste 5.3 hours every week either waiting for vital information from their colleagues or working to recreate existing institutional knowledge." Poor knowledge transfer creates many other problems, including the loss of specialized knowledge when employees leave, handling repeat issues, employee frustration when they don't have the resources to do their job, and longer ramp times for new hires.
According to APQC's research study, knowledge management has shown that effective knowledge sharing leads to increased productivity, better processes, and increased innovation. In general, employees are more successful when they have the proper documentation to expand their skills and perform better in the role. In addition, knowledge sharing has proven to increase employee engagement, giving them a better understanding of the company goals and encouraging workers to see themselves as part of a more significant effort.
The Barriers of Knowledge Sharing
There will always be barriers that add friction to the flow of knowledge among colleagues. Some barriers include:
Knowledge hoarding is where people hoard knowledge and information and see it as a personal advantage.
Measuring success can put teams in direct competition and decrease the sharing of knowledge.
Lack of structured times for open communication where people feel it's okay to be vulnerable.
Lack of trust between employees.
Lack of access to information, such as information silos, where information is only accessible to the team or individual who created it.
Knowledge Sharing Best Practices
Foster the right mindset
Foster a culture of knowledge sharing in your organization by starting with leadership. Create a strategy to adopt knowledge sharing and identify what actions leaders can take to promote knowledge sharing. The benefit of having leaders support and encourage knowledge sharing is increased motivation and confidence in the organization by seeing that the company is willing to share their knowledge. The overall attitude of the organization will change when people feel that they are part of something bigger and that they are free to communicate effectively.
Create a human connection with your colleagues
Creating a human connection promotes conversation between employees and encourages them to talk about more than just business. A human connection also encourages employees to bond and share their experiences to create a tighter-knit team. If people in the organization feel like they know each other and care about each other, they will be more inclined to share their knowledge.
Encourage sharing of skills and knowledge between team members
A great way to encourage sharing skills and expertise is to make it part of your culture. The leadership team sets the culture, and therefore they must model their behavior to promote transparency and open sharing. Put the tools, systems, and structured processes in one place to make information accessible across the organization.
It's okay to fail
The more information shared, the more opportunities there are for employees to learn from each other. If the goal is to have employees share regardless of the outcome, the company must establish a safe and encouraging culture. Negative news can be challenging to share; it's best to have leadership set the cultural standards by making themselves vulnerable and open. When others see that it's safe to share a negative outcome, they will feel comfortable sharing.
Provide structured meetings
Structured meetings provide consistency and commitment to knowledge sharing. Here are six meeting types designed to help knowledge transfer:
Training event meetings such as lightning talks and lunch and learns for expert sharing.
"All Hands" or "Town Hall" meetings transfer company-wide goals and initiatives.
Retrospective meetings for the group seek to understand key takeaways as a collective.
Planning meetings help keep the team on track and aligned with their goals.
Project kickoff meetings for formal introductions and sharing roles and responsibilities.
Internal "Hackathon" meetings bring employees together to solve problems.
Onboarding with access to information
New hires are most likely to leave an organization due to not successfully integrating into the organization. So creating an effective onboarding program can be a considerable driver of long-term retention. When new employees get onboarded, introduce them to the company culture and provide them with information about the company, its goals, and where they fit into this bigger picture. Ensure they have access to the necessary documentation and knowledge needed to perform their role. Provide support and direct them to locations where they can find videos and documentation that helps them do their job, make better decisions, and ultimately increase their revenue by their performance.
Tools to Support Capture and Knowledge Transfer
Use the right tools to make sharing knowledge easier. Every team has their favorite tools for collaboration: Slack, Google Docs, Asana, Notion, Confluence, etc. Tools like discussion boards and chat rooms are also practical for knowledge sharing. When your tools align with the end goal of knowledge sharing, it will be easier to keep the knowledge flowing throughout the organization.
Company-wide Wikis like Notion, Confluence, and Click up are great for sharing information because all employees can access it, and it's a static source of information. Employees often paste the info in chat platforms, but these tools aren't designed to be a knowledge base, and it can be challenging to find something shared a few days ago.
Cloud storage tools
We'll always have files and folders with contracts and other documentation; it's a good idea to use cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Drive and cross-link these documents into the Wiki.
Task boards or task trackers are also critical for prioritizing tasks and communicating who is working on what task. Tools like Asana and Trello are a great help, but modern wikis like Coda, Notion, and Click Up have task management boards.
Chat platforms tools
Chat platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams can be an excellent way to connect with a teammate, ask for clarification, or get help finding the right resources.
Video conferencing tools
Video conferencing solutions have made it possible to host structured meetings and collaborate synchronously. When paired with an AI notetaker that generates a searchable transcript, video conversations can provide a fantastic low-friction way to transfer knowledge.
Asynchronous video platforms allow individuals to share their screen while also speaking and are a low-friction and effective way to communicate bugs, tutorials, or short messages. Asynchronous videos are an emerging tool, with companies like Loom leading the way and others like Slack and Dropbox launching this functionality to improve knowledge sharing directly from their platform.
Capturing and Sharing Customer Conversations
You'll often hear that a company that is closest to its customer builds the best solutions. Although, customer conversations are happening every day across every aspect of the client journey, making it impossible for any human to understand the client's pain, need, or happiness. The client conversation often starts with a chat, escalates to email for planning and document sharing, and then jumps to video conferences where stories are told, and screens are shared. Capturing these conversations, augmenting them with AI, and putting them into a shared index is an untapped data source and provides key advantages for the company.
First, any member of the team can review information in the voice of the customer. The sales team no longer has to play telephone tag with product and engineering; they can transfer the entire message directly from the primary source. Next, the company can aggregate everyday events across all customer communication to track common questions, feature requests, competitor mentions, and so much more. Lastly, understanding every customer interaction helps discover the recipe for success and provides a framework to guide future interactions towards an increased probability of success.
Innovative Ideas for Knowledge Sharing
There are many innovative ways to share knowledge across the organization. Some of these examples include:
Video Conversation Capture
Video is an effective way to record information and share knowledge across the organization. With AI speech-to-text transcription, the company can create an internal knowledge base of video communication. Now any team member can access conversations, making it easy to find customer quotes, team decisions, and company initiatives.
AI meeting assistants eliminate the struggle of taking notes during meetings allowing members to stay more focused and present. Notetakers can also provide meeting minutes and highlight the key takeaways, allowing people to access the information they need without sitting through the entire meeting.
Clips are short, shareable moments that are accessible and easily consumed. Clips can either be made with asynchronous video tools or created from a recorded video conference call. Many of the AI Notetaking tools also support clip creation and sharing.
How to Measure Knowledge Sharing
Now that we have a basis for knowledge sharing and some best practices, how can a company understand if their efforts are working and frictionless knowledge transfer is happening across their company? According to an HDI article by Adam Krob, there are metrics for assessing knowledge-sharing outcomes. Here are some I choose to include:
Is knowledge accessible, searchable, and consumable? Is it accurate and up to date? Be empathic; who is the audience of this information, and what is their expected skill level? For example, technical documentation often assumes the consumer can code or is familiar with coding best practices. In short, Krob says that "Knowledge quality is a proxy for the person's perspective who will reuse the knowledge."
Time to Competency
Time to competency is a measurement to determine if behavioral changes are sticking. Having time for new employees to onboard is an excellent example of a time to competency. Companies care about employee ramp to productivity, and most companies measure employee ramp. Applying knowledge-sharing best practices to employee onboarding and measuring before and after are great ways to measure time to competency.
How many times are employees performing the same task over and over again? Rework effort is measured using a ratio that analyzes the time spent on repetitive tasks against the total time spent working. The goal is to reduce the number of repetitive tasks with knowledge sharing and automation.
Ask for Feedback
A simple survey with a few questions about how engaged employees feel and how the company can improve knowledge sharing is a great way to measure performance. Do more than asking for the feedback though, be proactive and review the feedback. Respond to employees and let them know you're listening. The easier it is for them to share their thoughts, the more likely they will give you their honest opinion.
Knowledge sharing will always be challenging, but you can create a culture that enables knowledge sharing and competency with the right amount of leadership support. Creating an environment that shares knowledge freely, fosters failure, encourages employees to share their expertise, and has access to information for all is an excellent foundation for a company that wants to create efficiencies, increase productivity, and foster trust.